Active Shooter Drills

(From The Campus Lantern – February 27, 2014) 

Earlier this week, my dorm hosted an educational program in which residents were taught how to act in active shooter situations.  The program was very informational and useful for those who attended.  However, it was not mandatory, but a priority point program, so only about thirty or forty students attended from the dorm.  It was mentioned that over breaks when there are no students on campus, the campus police department has drills in which they work together with the state police and others to act out active shooter situations so they would know how to react if it happened on campus.  An important question that was raised was why Eastern does not have active shooter drills for the students, similar to how we undergo fire drills.

One reason why we may not be able to undergo active shooter drills is because the university does not want to interrupt classes.  A seemingly simple solution to this would be to do it on the weekends or on a Monday or Friday when we have a holiday.  However, on those days, there are fewer students on campus, so it would not be wholly beneficial to practice it then.  Also, it was mentioned during the program that it would be difficult to construct an active shooter drill because it is a day-long practice that involves not only the campus police, but Willimantic and state police also.  A solution to this would be to set aside a certain day for the drill, and explain to students what is happening.  If students can expect the drill, it may not fully prepare them for an actual situation; but going through the safety procedures would be helpful, regardless.  Our lives are priceless; there are no understandable excuses as to why students should not undergo an active shooter drill.

Campus Action Corner

(From The Campus Lantern – February 27, 2014) 

As I stated last in last semester’s installments of “Campus Action Corner,” I am currently taking part in an internship called Campus Action through Planned Parenthood of Southern New England with another Eastern student, Deanna Jimenez. As interns, our jobs are to be voices for reproductive justice on Eastern’s campus. Reproductive justice mixes reproductive rights with social justice – we advocate for freedom in reproduction and reproductive health for every social class, gender, race, sexual orientation, age, religion, etc.

There are a few dates in March to keep in mind that pertain to reproductive justice. First off, March is National Women’s History Month. The National Women’s History Project (NWHP) states that the purpose of National Women’s History Month is to recognize “the achievements of women in all facets of life – science, community, government, literature, art, sports, [and] medicine.” Many women, especially multicultural women, are overlooked in mainstream American history, so National Women’s History Month aims to write these women back into history (www.nwhp.org). Deanna and I are planning on holding an event commemorating women in history; we’ve yet to pick a definite date for the event, but we will keep you posted.

March is also National Endometriosis Awareness Month. According to the Reproductive Medicine Associates of New Jersey (RMA) website, endometriosis is “a disorder in which the endometrial tissue, or the inner lining of the uterus, migrates to areas outside of the uterus, most commonly the ovaries and Fallopian tubes.” Endometriosis can be a painful, fatal disease so it is important to spread awareness to support those who suffer from it.

March 8th is International Women’s Day. According to the official International Women’s Day website, the holiday has been observed since the early 1900s. Traditionally, men honored the women in their lives by giving them flowers and small gifts. The deeper meaning of the holiday is to commemorate the achievements that women have made in history, including greater legislative rights, rights to attend university, and overall more visible public women role models for young folks. In the United States, however, women still do not have pay equality with men and women are not present in politics or business professions as much as men. Furthermore, globally and nationally, “women’s education, health and the violence against them is worse than that of men” (www.internationalwomensday.com). International Women’s Day honors women – all that they have overcome, and all that they are still fighting for.

March 10th is National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. According to the Office on Women’s Health (OWH) website, the purpose of this day is “to offer support and hope, reduce the stigma of HIV/AIDS, and empower women and girls to embrace the theme ‘Share Knowledge. Take Action.’” There are a few actions that can be taken in order to embrace the theme: Get tested and know your status; educate your peers; seek care and treatment if you are HIV-positive; prevent new infections; host and participate in meet-ups across the country; and invite others to participate in National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (www.womenshealth.gov).

In addition, March 10th is also National Day of Appreciation for Abortion Providers. According to Planned Parenthood’s website, the tradition started in 1997. March 10th is the “anniversary of the assassination of Dr. David Gunn, the first abortion provider murdered.” The purpose of the day is to “show your support for safe and legal abortion services and the heroes who provide them” (www.plannedparenthood.org). The day is an important one, in order to honor not only Dr. David Gunn, but every individual who provides abortions to folks. Deanna and I are planning on tabling in the Student Center on this day. We will have a card for folks to sign to show their gratitude for abortion providers.

Finally, March 28th is Back Up Your Birth Control Day. According to the official website, “Back Up Your Birth Control” is a national campaign to expand access to emergency contraception (EC) by increasing public education and awareness.” The day has been observed since the early 2000s, and the campaign is a project of the National Institute for Reproductive Health.

Deanna and I will be on campus this year putting on different events centered on reproductive justice. For each event, we are going to be collaborating with a student club on campus, the National Organization for Women (NOW). NOW meetings are Mondays at 6PM in the Student Center in room 107. We’re excited to work together with everyone on campus again this semester, and we look forward to hopefully seeing you at NOW meetings and Campus Action events! Feel free to email us at ecsucampusaction@gmail.com for more information.

Fall Out Boy, Marketing Geniuses

(From The Campus Lantern – October 17, 2013) 

After being on hiatus for over three years, Fall Out Boy came back this year, bigger and better than ever before. In April they released “Save Rock and Roll,” the follow up to their 2008 album, “Folie à Deux.” “Save Rock and Roll” has had positive reception from the critics. Simon Vozick-Levinson at Rolling Stone gave the album 3.5/5 stars. Vozick-Levinson got it spot on when he said, “There are sleazy disco grooves and a fat dubstep breakdown; there’s a semicoherent rant by Courtney Love, a random Big Sean rap verse and a song that manages to bite both Willie Nelson and Adele.” As a long-time Fall Out Boy fan, it was interesting to hear the band grow from their pop punk days of “Sugar, We’re Goin’ Down” to the pop rock anthem from their new album, “My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark (Light Em Up).”

After coming off hiatus and releasing a new album within only a few months, Fall Out Boy fans everywhere rejoiced when the band announced that they would be releasing yet another album in 2013. The album, which is technically an EP, is called “PAX•AM Days.” Although it was officially released on October 15, it was put up for streaming earlier in the month. The album was made for fun in only a few takes in the studio. Although they were released in the same year, this 8-track album is significantly different from “Save Rock and Roll.” While “Save Rock and Roll” is a solid pop rock album, “PAX•AM Days” is a tribute to the Misfits, Black Flag and other late ’70s and early ’80s punk bands (www.fuse.tv). The seemingly only similarity between the two albums is leader singer Patrick Stump’s voice. The music is almost entirely indistinguishable.

From a marketing standpoint, Fall Out Boy are geniuses. They released one “safe” album with melodic choruses and catchy hooks, yet with the same bizarre, sensory lyrics that the fans love (for example, “We are the jack-o-lanterns in July / Setting fire to the sky”). Months later, they released “PAX•AM Days,” which is perfect for listeners who are fans of the more “punk” Fall Out Boy from so long ago – “Take This To Your Grave,” anyone?

As if two albums (and quite a few tours supporting them) weren’t enough, Fall Out Boy is also releasing a music video series called “The Youngblood Chronicles.” The band is releasing a music video for all eleven songs on “Save Rock and Roll,” and they all make up a mini-film. So far the band has released six of the videos, and they are filled with violence, evil women antagonists, and lots and lots of suspense. Stay tuned for what Fall Out Boy will be up to next, because they seem to always be up to something, and it’s always something good.

Sexual Assault and Mental Health on College Campuses

(From The Campus Lantern – January 30, 2014)

A video was recently posted on ESPN telling a heart-wrenching story of a college athlete who was mistreated by her school. Sasha Menu Courey was just starting her career at the University of Missouri (MU); she had always loved swimming and got a scholarship to be on the swim team. Sasha had suffered from “major depressive disorder” for some time. However, when she was allegedly raped by an MU football player, another mental disorder, “borderline personality disorder,” was triggered within Sasha. By this time, she was going to counseling, but was still suffering from suicidal thoughts and tendencies.

In the video, it is very unclear why both the swim team coach and the school officials handled the situation the way they did. The coach dismissed Sasha off of the swim team, claiming that it was because she had hurt her back and that it had nothing to do with her mental instability. Also, a school official came to her hospital room and personally handed her papers of withdrawal from the university. They later claimed that it did not have to be permanent, that she could have come back – but if someone is not in their full mental state, being kicked off of a sports team, let alone being dismissed from a college, can feel like the end of the world.

These events led to Sasha overdosing on 100 Tylenol pills in 2011 and she was declared dead at the young age of 20.

Sexual assault is an ongoing problem on college campuses. The Associated Press (AP) has shared a report by the White House Council on Women and Girls that states that “[n]early 22 million American women and 1.6 million men have been raped in their lifetimes.” That same report also states that “7 percent of college men admitted to attempting rape, and 63 percent of those men admitted to multiple offenses, averaging six rapes each.” AP also states that a recent White House report verifies that “1 in 5 female students [are] assaulted while only 1 in 8 student victims report it.”

Any gender can be susceptible to rape, but the numbers that represent how it affects women can be overwhelming and quite terrifying. President Obama is targeting this sexual assault epidemic. According to AP, he has recently “signed a memorandum creating a task force to respond to campus rapes.” One main goal of this memorandum is to make guidelines for reporting sexual assaults stricter for campuses, and therefore, increase awareness of the issue.

It is important to talk about tough issues such as sexual assault and mental health. These are real problems affecting real people – most likely, some even on Eastern’s campus. Eastern has a Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) on campus available for student to talk about such issues. Through SART, Eastern has taken great strides in addressing issues of sexual violence and all forms of interpersonal violence. If you need to contact SART, or if you are interested in learning more about the team, contact Starsheemar Byrum at byrums@easternct.edu or (860) 465-4314. We need to speak up; that is the first step in sparking a change.

The Ten Commandments, Satan, and Abortion

(From The Campus Lantern – January 16, 2014) 

I recently stumbled upon an article on The Washington Times’ website entitled “Satanists’ statue design for Oklahoma Capitol: ‘Sit on the lap of Satan.’” The title was a lot to take in, but it sparked my interest. The gist of it was that members of the Satanic Temple in Oklahoma feel as though they have a right to build a statue of Satan at the state’s Capital building. There has been a monument of the Ten Commandments there since 2012; the Satanists think that if one religious group has the right to have their presence in Oklahoma’s capital, lawmakers should allow other religious groups to be there, too.

At first look, the article seems bogus. A statue of Satan at a state Capitol building? That’s just unheard of. But once I took the time to think about it, I realized that it’s not so out there. I am not a religious person myself, but why should one person’s religion be accepted by the government, and then another’s shamed? If the monument of the Ten Commandments is standing, why shouldn’t one of Satan? In my eyes, no religion reigns over any other in importance. If someone wants to believe in God, let them. If someone wants to believe in Satan, let them.

This article also made me think of the seeming lack of separation between church and state in the United States. It can be argued that if there is a true separation of church and state then there should be no religious statues next to a Capitol building. It can also be reasoned that if one religion can flaunt their beliefs at the Capitol, then any religion should be able to. If Oklahoma lawmakers do not let Satanists build their statue at the state’s capitol, this country needs to speculate on this supposed “separation” between religion and government. Another debate currently going on in government is whether women should be able to have abortions, and if so, how late they should be able to have them. One major argument against abortion is that is goes against certain religions. However, in a governmental viewpoint, if there truly is a separation between church and state, this is an illegitimate reason. Regardless of the topic, or how controversial it is, lawmakers need to take a step back and make sure the separation between church and state is present in their policies.

Campus Action Corner Pt. 3

(From The Campus Lantern – December 5, 2013) 

As I stated in the last two installments of “Campus Action Corner,” I am currently taking part in an internship called Campus Action through Planned Parenthood of Southern New England with another Eastern student, Deanna Jimenez. As interns, our jobs are to be voices for reproductive justice on Eastern’s campus. Reproductive justice mixes reproductive rights with social justice – we advocate for freedom in reproduction and reproductive health for every social class, gender, race, sexual orientation, age, religion, etc.

In last month’s installment of “Campus Action Corner,” I talked about dates to keep in mind in November; there are also a few important dates in December related to reproductive justice. Sunday, December 1st was World AIDS day. According to the official World AIDS Day website, the purpose of the day was “for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, show their support for people living with HIV and to commemorate people who have died.” A new club on campus, the Black Student Union, will be tabling on Friday, December 6th in Webb Lobby from 12-6PM. Stop by to pick up pamphlets, pins, and ribbons and to learn more about the AIDS virus and other sexually transmitted infections. There will also be free HIV testing in the Student Center, courtesy of Health Services.

Tuesday, December 10th is International Human Rights Day. According to the United Nations’ website, in honor of its 20th anniversary, the theme of the day this year is “20 Years: Working for Your Rights.” This theme puts “emphasis on the future … [while] identifying the challenges that lie ahead.” International Human Rights Day is celebrated all over the world, including “at the headquarters of the High Commissioner’s office in Geneva, in New York and in more than 50 other countries.”

Deanna and I will be on campus this year putting on different events centered on reproductive justice. We would like to thank everyone who came to our last event of the semester, which was an Obamacare information session. We had a great turn-out and the crowd had such insightful questions and comments. We’re excited to work together with everyone on campus again next semester, and we look forward to seeing you at our events! Feel free to email us at ecsucampusaction@gmail.com for more information.

Campus Action Corner Pt. 2

(From The Campus Lantern – October 31, 2013)  

As I stated in the last issue, I am currently taking part in an internship called Campus Action through Planned Parenthood of Southern New England with another Eastern student, Deanna Jimenez. As interns, our jobs are to be voices for reproductive justice on Eastern’s campus. Reproductive justice mixes reproductive rights with social justice – we advocate for freedom in reproduction and reproductive health for every social class, gender, race, sexual orientation, age, religion, etc.

In last week’s installment of “Campus Action Corner,” I talked about October dates to remember; there are also some dates in November related to reproductive justice to keep in mind. First off, November is Native American Heritage Month. According to the Bureau of Indian Affairs in the U.S. Department of the Interior, it is a month-long effort to gain “recognition for the significant contributions the first Americans made to the establishment and growth of the U.S.” Also, from November 25th through December 10th it is the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence. The main goal of those 16 days is to raise “awareness about gender-based violence as a human rights issue at the local, national, regional and international levels” (16dayscwgl.rutgers.edu).

Municipal elections are being held on Tuesday, November 5th this year. You can check your local town hall’s website, or stop by in person, to find out where voting locations are. Wednesday, November 20th is Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDoR). Its purpose is “to memorialize those who have been killed as a result of anti-transgender violence.” TDoR brings “attention to the continued violence endured by the transgender community” (www.glaad.org). Monday, November 25th is International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women 2013. According to the United Nations’ website, “[w]omen’s activists have marked 25 November as a day against violence since 1981.” On that date in 1960, “three Mirabal sisters, political activists in the Dominican Republic,” were brutally assassinated “on orders of Dominican ruler Rafael Trujillo” (www.un.org).

Deanna and I will be on campus this semester putting on different events centered on reproductive justice. Our next event will be disproving the myths and setting the facts straight about The Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, which helps the 19 million young people like you who may currently lack health coverage potentially gain access to it. We’re excited to be working together with everyone on campus this year, and we look forward to seeing you at our events! Feel free to email us at ECSUcampusaction@gmail.com for more information.